By Jeffrey A. Rendall; Images Courtesy of Great Golf Memories
PINEVILLE, NC – They don’t come very often, and that’s probably why we want to relive them when they happen – over and over.
I’m speaking of a “moment” in golf. Sure, we all hit some good golf shots… and more than our share of bad ones. But occasionally, there’s one shot that stands out – such as a Hole-In-One, an eagle… heck, even a birdie if it’s your first one.
For those all-too-rare personal bolts of lightning, we found Great Golf Memories, a Pineville, North Carolina based company (the official business name is Eureka Golf Products, INC) that specializes in historic preservation. In this case, the “history” being conserved is yours – your great golf memories.
More on the company below (in an interview with the company’s Vice President & Co-Owner, Mercer Langley). For now, a bit of background:
How the “moment” turned into a memory.
My “moment” occurred last November during a round at the Classic Club in Palm Desert, California.
Friday at the Classic Club was the last in our five-round annual family Thanksgiving golf get-together, and by that time, I had developed a rather ugly blister on my right ring finger. Warming up on the range (on a very cool desert morning), the blister popped – and the result was a painful sore.
I also wasn’t hitting particularly well on the practice tee.
In other words, the day began poorly and I didn’t play the opening three holes well, either. The sore was bothering me and I was yet to hit a solid shot in the first half-hour. Coming to the 525-yard (from the blue tees), par five fourth hole, I wasn’t optimistic that I would score well.
|The Classic Club|
As previously mentioned, the morning was cold and the ball wasn’t flying very far. I hit a weak 200-yard tee shot that barely reached the fairway and didn’t roll out. For my second, I hit a fairly solid 3-wood to the right side of the hole, which doglegs left.
For the approach shot, the cart’s GPS system indicated I was 130 yards from the hole, and the lie was in dormant Bermuda rough. I pulled a nine-iron, which on a warm day when I’m hitting well would have been too much club.
I swung and made good contact. I saw the ball clear a greenside bunker and bounce just left of the pin if the distance was right. ‘Finally, a good shot,’ I thought, and headed for the green.
I couldn’t see where the shot had ended up from where I hit it (it was slightly above my vantage point), and as the green came into view, I didn’t see the ball. ‘What?’ Instantly, negative thoughts entered my mind… ‘Even when I hit a good one, it still somehow misses the green.’
I pulled up by the putting surface and noticed a white speck in the rough in back of the green. I grabbed my wedge and mumbled a question to myself… ‘How could that ball have gone long?’
|Great Golf Memories in Pineville, North Carolina.|
The white speck turned out to be a piece of paper. Scanning the green and the surroundings, I saw nothing else around that even remotely resembled a ball. I was just about to pass it off as one of those ‘Twilight Zone’ golf moments when I decided to check the cup.
Walking closer, I saw a ball in the hole. Sure enough, it was my Titleist Pro V1x ‘2’ that a friend had given me a couple days prior.
The discovery stunned me a bit. I’d only holed out once before from any appreciable distance, so this was a big deal. I waited for my playing partners to reach the green before pulling the ball out of the hole – somehow, I wanted to make sure someone other than me could affirm what had just happened.
I received a round of congratulations… and some good advice. “Better put that ball away,” my brother suggested. Sure enough. I’d intended to just put it back in my bag, but instead I tucked it safely into my camera bag, where it wouldn’t get mixed-in with others of the golf ball variety.
The eagle made my day – made my trip, in fact. I’d played reasonably well for a mid-handicapper while in California, so there had been quite a few good shots to remember from those five rounds. But this one was different. I’ve had eagles before, but never one made in quite that manner.
Upon returning to Virginia, a family friend, Jerry Marcey, suggested having something special done to commemorate my “Great Golf Memory,” and told me about a website I should check out. The rest, you might say, is history.
I logged on and found a beautiful wooden plaque to hold my Titleist eagle-ball (I also ordered a wooden stand and an eagle hat clip ball marker to go along with it) – and it will sit perpetually on my mantle to remind me of that one moment in time.
It’s also a nice conversation piece for visitors, who invariably notice it. It’s great to relay a story that isn’t really a tall tale!
Since it was such a cool concept, I asked Great Golf Memories’ Mercer Langley to tell us a little more about the company’s history, and to share some of his own interesting golf anecdotes:
GolfTheUnitedStates.com: What is the history of Great Golf Memories? Who was the driving force behind its creation?
Langley: In 2002, Jim Walters (my father-in-law) retired after 30 years with Bank of America. He wanted to start a business that combined his passion for golf with his creativity and love of marking things.
The business started with pencil and golf ball display cases, but quickly evolved into much more. Jim found a niche in the Hole-In-One industry and developed the National Hole-In-One Registry as well as HoleInOneTrophies.com.
In 2013, GolfTrophiesandMore.com was added to the family to focus on tournaments and events.
Around the same time, Jim decided that he was ready to fully retire and began looking for suitors to purchase the business. I had been in the logistics industry for the past 11 years, but was an avid golfer and had desires of owning my own company.
In August of 2013, I took a leap of faith. I left a great job in Nashville, TN, and purchased 50% of the business from Jim. We will co-own the business for the next two years. After that time, he intends to gift a small percentage of the business to his son and daughter (my wife), and I will buy the remainder.
The official business name is Eureka Golf Products, INC.
GolfTheUnitedStates.com: I’m guessing you receive inquiries from all over the world. Was there ever a request from a part of the world that surprised you?
Langley: Definitely. One of the strangest requests came from a club member in Hawaii. He asked us to create and produce 450 custom-made golf ball display boxes. He had made a Hole In One and wanted to give a gift to all 450 members of his club to recognize his achievement. In another situation, we shipped 38 dozen logo golf balls to Alaska.
GolfTheUnitedStates.com: If you would share with us, what would you say is the most unique "memory" that you ever enshrined in a product?
Langley: One of the most unique and memorable happened this past Christmas (2013). A gentleman contacted me in hopes of creating some custom poker chips. His wife passed away in early 2013 and he had a couple love letters that she had left behind.
From what I could gather, she was apparently fairly young and the couple had loved to play golf together. I was able to take “I Love You” and her signature from the letter and print them on poker chips.
He gave them to his kids and other family members as Christmas gifts. The poker chips came out so well it looked like someone had handwritten on them. It took me tremendous time to edit the photos, but it was well worth the effort to make something so special.
Another interesting one happened several years ago, when a customer was looking for a case to display champagne corks that came from the New York Yankees’ locker room after winning the World Series. We used our glass dome Hole-In-One display case, and he replaced the ball with his cork. Here’s the link: http://www.greatgolfmemories.com/gldogobadi.html
GolfTheUnitedStates.com: Obviously you commemorate good shots. Do you have "gag" type gifts where you would memorialize bad shots/rounds?
Langley: Not really, but we have done things like first birdie, first par, Hole In One and Shot Age in same round.
We also used to carry golf themed toilet paper. I personally gave some out as a prize for the worst team in a tournament that I hosted. I’ll let you figure out what we named the award!!
GolfTheUnitedStates.com: Funny! That’s one prize I’m glad I didn’t win.
Do you mostly service individual requests, or do you mostly cater to corporate/club-type events?
Langley: It depends on which website you’re talking about. Each site has a unique audience.
60% of Great Golf Memories business, for example, is women buying for men.
We provide wholesale options for golf courses but our websites focus on retail.
At this point, the majority of our orders come from individuals -- but we continue to gain market share in the green grass shops.
GolfTheUnitedStates.com: Do you offer merchandise for other events besides the Masters?
Langley: No. Other major tournament merchandise is already sold online. PGA sells for PGA Championship and USGA sells for the US Open. The Masters does not sell online and only retails for 7 days a year during the tournament.
I’m not the only one who’s taken advantage of Great Golf Memories – our good friend Jerry Marcey has done more than merely recommend the group.
“On three separate occasions I have used Great Golf Memories to preserve golf balls I have used in scoring two eagles and a hole-in-one. Their products were excellent in preserving and detailing the events I used these 3 balls. I would recommend Great Golf Memories to anybody that wants to preserve their golfing memories,” Marcey said.
Golf is a game that goes beyond the “moment,” and it’s good that we have people like those behind Great Golf Memories to help us remember the unique special shots.
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